June 17

All the discourses of our Lord contain these four elements; commandments, doctrines, threats and promises. With the help of these we patiently accept every kind of hardship, such as fasting, vigils, sleeping on the ground, toil and labor in acts of service, insults, dishonor, torture, death and so on. ‘Helped by the words of Thy lips,’ says the psalmist, ‘I have kept to difficult paths’ (Psalm 17:4 LXX)….

When the intellect practices the virtues correctly, it advances in moral understanding. When it practices contemplation, it advances in spiritual knowledge. The first leads the spiritual contestant to discriminate between virtue and vice; the second leads the participant to the inner qualities of incorporeal and corporeal things. Finally, the intellect is granted the grace of theology when, carried on wings of love beyond these two former stages, it is taken up into God and with the help of the Holy Spirit discerns–as far as this is possible for the human intellect–the qualities of God….

Whatever a man loves he inevitably clings to, and in order not to lose it he rejects everything that keeps him from it. So he who loves God cultivates pure prayer, driving out every passion that keeps him from it.

                                                          ~St Maximos the Confessor

June 16

When the sun rises and casts its light on the world, it reveals both itself and the things it illumines. Similarly, when the Sun of righteousness rises in the pure intellect (nous), he reveals both Himself and the inner principles of all that has been and will be brought into existence by Him.

Fear of God is of two kinds. The first is generated in us by the threat of punishment. Is is through such fear that we develop in due order self-control, patience, hope in God and dispassion; and it is from dispassion that love comes. The second kind of fear is linked with love and constantly produces reverence in the soul, so that it does not grow indifferent to God because of the intimate communion of its love.

The first kind of fear is expelled by perfect love when the soul has acquired this and is no longer afraid of punishment (1 John 4:18). The second kind, as we have already said, is always found united with perfect love. The first kind of fear is referred to in the following two verses: ‘Out of fear of the Lord men shun evil’ (Proverbs 16:6), and ‘Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ (Psalm 111:10). The second kind is mentioned in the following verses: ‘Fear of the Lord is pure, and endures forever’ (Psalm 19:9 LXX), and ‘Those who fear the Lord will not want for anything’ (Psalm 34:10 LXX).

~St Maximos the Confessor

June 15

We carry about with us impassioned images of the things we have experienced. If we can overcome these images we shall be indifferent to the things which they represent. For fighting against the thoughts of things is much harder than fighting against the things themselves, just as to sin in the mind is easier than to sin through outward action….

‘Put to death therefore whatever is earthly in you: unchastity, uncleanness, passion, evil desire and greed’ (Colossians 3:5). Earth is the name St Paul gives to the will of the flesh. Unchastity is his word for the actual committing of sin. Uncleanness is how he designates assent to sin. Passion is his term for impassioned thoughts. By evil desire he means the simple act of accepting the thought and the desire. And greed is his name for what generates and promotes passion. All these St Paul ordered us to mortify as ‘aspects’ expressing the will of the flesh….

First the memory brings some passion-free thought into the intellect (nous). By its lingering there, passion is aroused. When the passion is not eradicated, it persuades the intellect to assent to it.Once this assent is given, the actual sin is then committed. Therefore, when writing to converts from paganism, St Paul in his wisdom orders them first to eliminate the actual sin and then systematically to work back to the cause. The cause, as we have already said, is greed, which generates and promotes passion. I think that greed in this case means gluttony, because this is the mother and nurse of unchastity. For greed is a sin not only with regard to possessions but also with regard to food, just as self-control likewise relates to both food and possessions.

                                                                                        ~St Maximos the Confessor

June 14

Do not befoul your intellect by clinging to thoughts filled with anger and sensual desire. Otherwise you will lose your capacity for pure prayer and fall victim to the demon of listlessness….

When the intellect associates with evil and sordid thoughts it loses its intimate communion with God….

Do not listen gleefully to gossip at your neighbor’s expense or chatter to a person who likes finding fault. Otherwise you will fall away from divine love and find yourself cut off from eternal life….

‘But I say to you,’ says the Lord, ‘love your enemies…do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you’ (Matthew 5:44). Why did He command this? To free you from hatred, irritation, anger and rancor, and to make you worthy of the supreme gift of perfect love. And you cannot attain such love if you do not imitate God and love all men equally. For God loves all men equally and wishes them ‘to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth’ (1 Timothy 2:4).

~St Maximos the Confessor

June 13

You should know that you have been greatly benefited when you have suffered deeply because of some insult or indignity: for by means of the indignity self-esteem has been driven out of you….

A man who has been assiduous in acquiring the fruits of love will not cease loving even if he suffers a thousand calamities. Let Stephen, the disciple of Christ, and others like him persuade you of the truth of this (Acts 7:60). Our Lord Himself prayed for His murderers and asked the Father to forgive them because they did not know what they were doing (Luke 23:34)….

If love is long-suffering and kind (1 Corinthians 12:4), a man who is contentious and malicious clearly alienates himself from love. And he who is alienated from love is alienated from God, for God is love….

If a man desires something, he makes every effort to attain it. But of all things which are good and desirable the divine is incomparably the best and the most desirable. How assiduous then, we should be in order to attain what is of its very nature good and desirable….

Stop defiling your flesh with shameful deeds and polluting your soul with wicked thoughts; then the peace of God will descend upon you and bring you love.

~St Maximos the Confessor

June 12

The person who loves God cannot help loving every man as himself, even though he is grieved by the passions of those who are not yet purified. But when they amend their lives, his delight is indescribable and knows no bounds….

If we detect any trace of hatred in our hearts against any man whatsoever for committing any fault, we are utterly estranged from love for God, since love for God absolutely precludes us from hating any man….

He who loves Me, says the Lord, will keep My commandments (John 14:15, 23); and ‘this is My commandment, that you love one another’ (John 15:12). Thus he who does not love his neighbor fails to keep the commandment, and so cannot love the Lord….

Blessed is he who can love all men equally….

He who gives alms in imitation of God does not discriminate between the wicked and the virtuous, the just and the unjust, when providing for men’s bodily needs. He gives equally to all according to their need, even though he prefers the virtuous man to the bad man because of the probity of his intention….

When you are insulted by someone or humiliated, guard against angry thoughts, lest they arouse a feeling of irritation, and so cut you off from love and place you in the realm of hatred.

                                                                       ~St Maximos the Confessor

June 11

Love is a holy state of the soul, disposing it to value knowledge of God above all created things. We cannot attain lasting possession of such love while we are still attached to anything worldly….

The person who loves God values knowledge of God more than anything created by God, and pursues such knowledge ardently and ceaselessly….

If everything that exists was made by God and for God, and God is superior to the things made by him, he who abandons what is superior and devotes himself to what is inferior shows that he values things made by God more than God Himself….

Since the soul is more noble than the body and God incomparably more noble than the world created by Him, he who values the body more than the soul and the world created by God more that the Creator Himself is simply a worshiper of idols.

~St Maximos the Confessor